by W. Stephen Gilbert
It’s more than time to try to unpick the shemozzl of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party 1. Self-harming is ever Labour’s favourite activity, and those MPs determined to keep the row going have lost sight of the danger that what they wish for will hurt them more, that unseating Jeremy Corbyn will cost some of them their own seats and condemn us to Tory rule for the forseeable future. It is essential to get this thing back into perspective and to halt the misinformation over the issue both current and retrospective.
It seems to me that there are five propositions on the table, four of which are simply not sustainable. They are: 1) anti-Semitism is rife throughout the Labour Party; 2) the left is innately anti-Semitic; 3) Jeremy Corbyn is complicit in anti-Semitism or at best complaisant in face of its incidence; 4) this controversy has been whipped up now in order to damage Corbyn; 5) charges of anti-Semitism in the party are wholly fabricated.
Propositions 1) and 5) are mutually exclusive and, I submit, both untrue. The last is foolish and insensitive but needs to be put into focus. Anti-Semitism is never acceptable, any more than any other stance along a continuum from discrimination through irrational fear of difference to prejudice and hatred. The present tummel may make some agnostic voters imagine that anti-Semitism is peculiar to Labour. It is not. Other parties will be whispering to themselves “there but for the bias of the media go we”. None of this means that Labour have no job to do. But using Trumpian rhetoric such as “draining the swamp” is absurd.
There are people prone to ignorance in every organisation, every community, every gathering. This is not to say that Labour are exonerated simply because they are not the only tainted party. Two wrongs do not make a right, however often Theresa May seems to say they do in defence of her government’s policies at Prime Minister’s Questions. But the malicious propaganda persists that Labour are uniquely culpable.
Nevertheless, Labour are not immune and those of us who long to see Labour form the next government must be concerned that the party is the most welcoming and tolerant of organisations and that it is heartfelt and sedulous in making certain that this will always be the case.
After all, there are other damaging threads in the party. There is racism – much of the abuse heaped upon Diane Abbott is overtly or covertly racist, not to mention sexist and misogynistic. There is homophobia, some of it intentional, some merely thoughtless. In setting up against Angela Eagle for the function of challenging Corbyn’s leadership two years ago, Owen Smith mentioned his “normal family”, a swat against Eagle’s same-sex relationship. There is insensitivity to both old and young and to those with disabilities and different values, both cultural and spiritual. Common to all is enmity, hostility and abuse.
To those matters I will return later.
The kicking-off point for this springtime bloodletting was a mural painted in Hanbury Street, Tower Hamlets in 2012 by Kalen Ockerman, an American street artist calling himself Mear One.
Ockerman is a committed Socialist whose work is habitually political. He gave an account of this particular piece on his Facebook status at the time: “I came to paint a mural that depicted the elite banker cartel known as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans, the ruling class elite few, the Wizards of Oz. They would be playing a board game of monopoly on the backs of the working class. The symbol of the Freemason Pyramid rises behind this group and behind that is a polluted world of coal burning and nuclear reactors. I was creating this piece to inspire critical thought and spark conversation”.
As a matter of record, only the Rothschilds and the Warburgs (also depicted) were Jewish; the others (including also Andrew Carnegie) were not. Aleister Crowley, goyish Satanist rather than banker, is also there. Those assuming that all of those depicted were Jewish may have been influenced by prejudices they themselves brought to the viewing of the mural. Ockerman’s intent was to arraign capitalists, not Jews. That there was a Jewish element was incidental. Moreover, Freemasonry is emphatically not a Jewish movement. Ockerman took his depiction of the Pyramid from the US dollar bill.
Responding to present comments, he says “to conflate my anti-capitalist message with anti-Semitic rhetoric, as the UK politicians and their MSM puppets have so adeptly accomplished, is very ill-intended and manipulative” [see Mear One status on Facebook].
The mural was painted over in 2012 on the orders of the Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman, who was later found guilty of “corrupt or illegal practices or both” and barred from office. At the time of the suppression, Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his support for the artist. As he has opposed censorship all his political life, it should surprise no one that he instinctively took this stance. It may have been a kneejerk reaction, but we all are guilty of those.
It seems likely that he did so without seeing the work in the flesh, as it were. It’s a pity that he has felt it necessary to concede “regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic”3 because his hindsight account of the contents is, as I’ve noted, erroneous.
This is a statement more concerned with damage limitation than objectivity, but it rebounds on Corbyn more than it puts salve on the wound.
We have been here before. I regret revisiting old news but those who wish to damage Labour find doing so a useful technique because it’s easy to transform a past issue into a false legend. So the case of Naz Shah is now cited as ‘evidence’ of a history of anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party – indeed The World at One persuaded Shah to submit herself to re-examination4 .
Shah was the subject of an early attempt to destabilise Corbyn’s leadership through the issue of anti-Semitism, derived from the office of Lynton Crosby just ten days before the local elections in the spring of 2016. Crosby was David Cameron’s propaganda chief, knighted for his services. At some point, Crosby’s office unearthed a series of tweets posted in 2014 by Shah, a Moslem who sits for Labour for the Bradford West constituency, having gained it in May 2015 from George Galloway of the Respect Party, and who, since February 2016, had served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.
Crosby’s office passed the tweets to Paul Staines, whose blog under the name Guido Fawkes exists to damage Labour. Staines made a story of them, a media broigus5 ensued and Shah was held to typify the anti-Semitism that his enemies were already claiming characterised Corbyn’s take-over of Labour. At the time, she was a member of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee but recused herself from its report on anti-Semitism in the UK6 . She is not, by the way, a Corbyn supporter; her candidacy had been imposed on Bradford West by Labour HQ in Ed Miliband’s time.
The Fawkes story revisited Shah’s tweets. The first was a graphic that imagines (but does not advocate, as widely characterised) Israel relocated to the American mid-west.
Naz Shah did not dream this up herself. She took it from the blog of an American academic, Norman Finkelstein. As you may surmise from his name, Professor Finkelstein is Jewish, the son of two Shoah survivors. In collaboration with a Palestinian scholar, Finkelstein was at that time preparing a book entitled How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict, his twelfth on the subject. He made the graphic to illustrate the size of Israel relative to the States and did so in a jocular spirit, without exciting noticeable condemnation either in the States or elsewhere. This provenance casts a rather different light on Shah’s use of the map. The Guido Fawkes weblog did not disclose the background of the graphic and nor did the Home Affairs Committee in its report on anti-Semitism.
The second tweet illustrated in the Fawkes blog says this: “URGENT ACTION – WILL TAKE TEN SECONDS” and then reproduces a link to the Mirror newspaper, which includes the words “John Prescott Israels Bombardment”. The tweet goes on: “The Jews are rallying to the poll at the bottom and there is now 87% disagreeing and 13% agreeing. CLICK ‘YES I AGREE WITH JOHN PRESCOTT THAT ISRAEL IS COMMITTING WAR CRIMES’. FORWARD ON TO ALL CONTACTS RIGHT NOW” [Shah’s caps].
A third tweet, under the hashtag #APARTHEIDISRAEL, has a police ID photograph and, beneath it, the words “NEVER FORGET THAT EVERYTHING HITLER DID IN GERMANY WAS LEGAL”. These words may be read in differing ways. Taken neutrally, they simply state an objective fact. In another context, they might be swung to suggest approval of what Hitler did. I suggest that the quotation’s origins carry no hint of the latter. The words were spoken by none less than Dr Martin Luther King, who is the subject of the reproduced police photograph.
The Home Affairs Committee Report didn’t explain or explore these aspects of the tweets. It merely stated, with shameful lack of grammar: “Of equal concern as the contents of these three posts is the fact that nobody who reacted on Facebook appears to have objected to or questioned them” (evidently the Committee cannot tell Twitter from Facebook). Well, I wish to put on record that I both object to and question the Committee’s implication that Lord Prescott is – and Dr King was – anti-Semitic. Moreover, I am very surprised that nobody (apparently) has reacted anywhere to these absurd suggestions, let alone on Twitter or Facebook. I should have thought Prescott would be incandescent.
Like the graphic, Shah’s other tweets were of other people’s observations. In July 2014, she retweeted: “Hamas: We are a legitimate resistance movement”. That December, she retweeted: “‘Hamas should be removed from terror list’ – EU court ruling”. You may wonder how these sentiments come to be specifically accounted anti-Semitic. Hamas is the democratically elected government in Gaza. Like the Netanyahu government in Israel, it rejects a two-state solution. In both Israel and the territories that presently make up Palestine, a two-state solution was favoured in opinion polls until January this year. Present hostilities may well have eroded support further.
Paul Staines wrote on Guido Fawkes: “Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK”. This is simply not true. Unlike the US and the EU (whose court ruling was later overturned), the UK government do not deem Hamas itself a terrorist organisation. Only its military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades, is on the proscribed list. Pretending to make no distinction between Hamas and guerrillas who proceed under its banner is a stance taken by many of those people who did the same with Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA. Incidentally, there are two small, ultranationalist Israeli organisations, Kach and Kahane Chai, that are not proscribed as terrorist in the UK but are so listed in the US and the EU and indeed in Israel itself. According to the Haaretz newspaper, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Defence Minister and former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, was at one time a member of Kach 7.
Naz Shah stood down from her PPS post and was then suspended by the Party. Subsequently she disowned her tweets and was reinstated. To my mind, she was naïve in three distinct ways: she failed to see that her retweets might be used as ammunition by Labour’s enemies, she neglected to explain the respectable sources of her retweets and she allowed herself to be bullied into apology and confession. This last failing helped to condemn Ken Livingstone, whose gallant intervention in the row was precisely to defend Shah against the distorted account of her tweets. However, the former London mayor is old enough to know what he’s doing and stubborn enough to go on defying the critics he must have known he would stir up. Like Christine Shawcroft and her evident defence of highly questionable material, he has shown himself at the very least insensitive to easily bruised feelings and oblivious of the danger of further harming Labour.
Meanwhile, Lynton Crosby’s Machiavellian manipulation of the media and of grateful anti-Corbyn Labour MPs duly prevented the party progressing quite as much as it might have hoped in the local elections, especially in seats where there was a strong Jewish presence. Thereafter his tactics were duly endorsed by the cross-party House Committee that included the Labour backbenchers David Winnick and Chuka Umunna and the Scottish Nationalist Stuart McDonald. After writing about the traducing of Naz Shah in the spring of 2016, I warned thus: “Labour and its true supporters need to be better prepared for the next stroke that Crosby pulls. Watch out for Corbyn being set up for the blame if the country votes to leave the EU”. QED.
So to the slur that Socialists are innately anti-Semitic. The Valhalla of the left is full of Jews – Rosa Luxemburg, Ernst Bloch, Eric Hobsbawm, Harold Laski, Noam Chomsky, Joe Slovo, Natalia Ginzburg … not to mention that most enduring hate figure for Social Democrats, Leon Trotsky, and indeed Karl Marx himself8. Jews are deeply bound into the development of Socialist thought.
Here is a statement that underlines this relationship: “The Jewish Socialists’ Group expresses its serious concern at the rise of anti-Semitism, especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership. The recent extensive survey by the highly respected Jewish Policy Research confirmed that the main repository of anti-Semitic views in Britain is among supporters of the Conservative Party and UKIP. This political context, alongside declining support for the Tories, reveals the malicious intent behind the latest flimsy accusations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These accusations have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the unelected, self-proclaimed ‘Jewish Leadership Council’, two bodies dominated by supporters of the Tory Party”9 .
The left have also been blackguarded over the Nazis and Shoah. Ken Livingstone’s gloss on Hitler’s attitude to the mooted creation of Israel, while impossible to categorise seriously as in itself anti-Semitic, is certainly debatable. But worse assaults have been made on the left, including accusations of Holocaust denial. This vile crime is not to be found on the left of politics. Of the 18 British Holocaust deniers identified on Wikipedia, all but four are actively placed on the far right. The exceptions are Michèle Renouf, who appears to have just the one interest; Richard Williamson, a dissenting Catholic bishop; Nicholas Kollerstrom, a serial conspiracy theorist; and David Icke, a notorious crank and espouser of multiple marginal causes. Both Kollerstrom and Icke are former members of the Green Party – perhaps someone would like to set going a major scandal about that party’s links with anti-Semitism. And let’s just recall that leftists perished in their thousands alongside Jews in the concentration camps.
To be the victim of hatred and bigotry is frightening, painful and demoralising; so too is being accused falsely and unjustly of hatred and bigotry. Those casting accusations like to dismiss their victims as being “in denial”. In Anna Freud’s meaning, the phrase has a particular and useful application. In popular usage, it is a crude rhetorical point, pre-empting the natural response to an unjust accusation: “no, I’m not”.
Another rhetorical device is the increasingly common parlaying of tempered criticism or respectfully phrased opposition into hate speech by the recipient, in the manner of someone greatly exaggerating his woes in order to elicit sympathy. This is not to say that modern political exchanges are conducted with punctilious courtesy. Far from it. The rise of social media has opened the floodgates for millions of people who, in an earlier era, would have written nothing from one month’s end to the next, there then being few platforms for doing so: letters to the press were filleted by editors; diaries and commonplace books were not seen outside the home; correspondence with friends and family was a chore, left behind with Victorian maiden aunts. Now everyone clatters on keyboards at every opportunity, and, on social media, the illusion of the absence of libel, the apparent lack of consequence and the option, if chosen, to defame and denigrate under cover of anonymity all encourage heedless outpourings that would shame a bar-room blowhard.
Everyone who uses social media knows that abuse and even menaces are a constant part of the landscape, and no single political position is peculiarly affected by it. In 2016, a number of Labour’s women MPs launched an investigation of so-called trolling under the title ‘Reclaim the Internet’10 . Anyone can support such an enterprise, until it is used as a stick with which to beat Corbyn. Then it becomes a partisan exercise and is mere propaganda. So Corbyn is told he should take ownership of the online abuse and the implication is spread that Corbyn somehow encourages the trolling through his supporters such as the group founded by the Jewish Jon Lansman, Momentum.
Carole Malone in The Mirror accused “thugs acting in Corbyn’s name” of making death threats to Angela Eagle and to her fellow MP Luciana Berger 11. Berger promptly responded in a tweet that “the man who sent me those messages has nothing to do with @uklabour”, but Malone issued no correction. The hate that columnists like Malone loudly deplore instead fuels their own carelessly damaging prose.
This all makes for unbridgeable enmity. Jess Phillips MP handed 96 pages of what she said was online abuse against her to the Labour Party. She did not indicate any discernible pattern, either by date or origin, but her belief that her anti-Corbyn activities make her a target is clear12 . Phillips’ senior colleague Yvette Cooper proposed “a new online code of conduct, so where there is serious abuse, intimidation or harassment online, members face expulsion from the Party. As leader, Jeremy Corbyn should have done this himself instead of just warm words”13 .
The implication is that Corbyn-supporting members are responsible and Corbyn is complicit. When Phillips then ‘threatens’ to stand down as an MP if Corbyn is re-elected, the pincer movement is complete (she has yet to carry out her ‘threat’, but she does make it most months and then evidently finds another complaint that requires her to stay in the House).
No Labour MP found it in herself to object to the headline seen by hundreds of thousands over another Corbyn assault by Labour Party member Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday: “Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza”, this just ten days after the horrific murder of the Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, thus marking a new low in tabloid propriety 14. You can bet that anyone tweeting “Labour MUST kill harpy Jess” would have been promptly expelled from the party and excoriated in the Daily Mail.
Needless to say, Corbyn regularly receives death threats. But I suspect he takes the view articulated by the television judge, Robert Rinder: “My Twitter feed is one of the ugliest things in the world. But I absolutely don’t care. The fact that people sit up all night chain-smoking and saying nasty things online is not a big problem for me … All they want is some attention. When you see someone has said something nasty about you, it’s important to remember it’s really about them”15 .
The House Committee Report took the same line about Corbyn that had been peddled by his enemies in the party and by the media: that he needed to do more to prevent online abuse. None of them offered any clue as to what he should do. As early as his first leadership campaign, he advocated “a kinder politics”. He never resorts to ad hominem remarks, even though the open scorn and insults he is subjected to from his own backbenchers are unprecedented since the time of Fox and Pitt.
Even his most deep-dyed foes concede that he is always courteous, respectful and civil. He regularly condemns online abuse. He cannot force people to be good; not even the Pope, not even Nelson Mandela could do that. Is he to go from house to house pleading with people to be nice? He made the constructive gesture of having talks about controls of posting and tweeting with representatives of Facebook and Twitter. But given that he has no responsibility, indirect let alone direct, for the abuse that inadequate people perpetrate, he need not have made the gesture. The Home Secretary at the time (one Theresa May) should have been the one to do it.
Momentum is constantly supposed to be the author of bullying and abuse. Curiously enough, an analysis of MPs’ Twitter feeds found that no Corbyn supporter registered in the ‘Top Ten’ for foul language and abuse, but that six habitual critics of Corbyn did: Jamie Reed, Michael Dugher (first and second respectively), the aforementioned Jess Phillips, Karl Turner, John Woodcock and Lilian Greenwood16 . The outcry has hardly been deafening.
But the abuse of Corbyn goes on, noted online if not by the MSM. When a member of the Upper House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom stoops so low as to relate the Leader of the Opposition to Adolf Hitler, it is clear that there is a problem with political discourse that concerns everyone.
How can anyone police and punish such a widespread spectrum of strife?
The calumny that Momentum is a bunch of bully boys who mean Labour harm has gained traction as the press have taken up this characterisation from those Labour MPs who certainly mean Corbyn harm. Anyone who attends a meeting of a branch of Momentum habitually mingles with a group of friendly, courteous and thoughtful people, most of them over 50, who would hesitate to say boo to a goose. Propaganda frequently distorts reality grotesquely.
There have been several television ‘exposés’ of Momentum meetings – it isn’t explained how a camera at an open meeting constitutes an exposé – and in practice they never live up to the advertised outrage. Much more interesting would be to see undercover coverage of, say, a meeting of Progress, the outfit whose raison d’être is to bring down Corbyn, but no broadcaster wishes to embarrass this interest.
Again and again, the charge is made that Momentum is a front for Trotskyist thugs and that Corbyn is not doing enough about the enmity, hostility and abuse that is said to emanate from this source. Everyone else thinks of little else. Elevated to the party’s National Executive Committee through the resignation of Shawcroft, Eddie Izzard declared: “I’ve campaigned against hate my whole life and will continue to do so wherever it rears its ugly head” 17. If he thinks that is somehow more than Corbyn has said, he’s greatly mistaken.
But some still speak up for him. Here is London-based journalist Joseph Finlay: “Jeremy Corbyn is one of the leading anti-racists in parliament – I would go so far to say that he is one of the least racist MPs we have. So naturally Corbyn signed numerous Early Day motions in Parliament condemning anti-Semitism, years before he became leader and backed the campaign to stop Neo-Nazis from meeting in Golders Green in 2015.
“Because all racisms are interlinked it is worth examining Corbyn’s wider anti-racist record. Corbyn was being arrested for protesting against apartheid while the Thatcher government defended white majority rule and branded Nelson Mandela a terrorist. Corbyn was a strong supporter of Labour Black Sections – championing the right of Black and Asian people to organise independently in the Labour party while the Press demonised them as extremists. He has long been one of the leaders of the campaign to allow the indigenous people of the Chagos Islands to return after they were forcibly evicted by Britain in the 1960s to make way for an American military base.
“Whenever there has been a protest against racism, the two people you can always guarantee will be there are Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. Who do you put your trust in — the people who hate anti-Semitism because they hate all racism or the people (be they in the Conservative party or the press) who praise Jews whilst engaging in Islamophobia and anti-black racism? The right-wing proponents of the Labour anti-Semitism narrative seek to divide us into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ minorities — they do not have the well being of Jews at heart”. This was an article for no less than The Times of Israel18 .
But because he is deemed not to have done sufficient, Corbyn is found to be complicit in that abuse, whether it be against Jews or women or anyone and everyone else. So a know-nothing pisher 19 is picked out at the Palace of Westminster demo by the BBC news camera, chanting “o-o-oh Jeremy’s a racist” 20.
What you look for in vain is any suggestion as to what more he is supposed to do about prejudice and abuse. After all, the most powerful players in social media are quite incapable of policing the posts and tweets and blogs of their own users. How can Corbyn halt the anonymous abuse, the perpetrators of which are said to run into thousands?
If not the Internet, another medium for discipline is the Labour Party itself. The Party is not Corbyn’s personal fiefdom. It has a long-standing bureaucracy, it has unwieldy structures designed to preserve that awkward ideal, democracy, and it is expected to subscribe to the view that allegations must be proved and defendants found guilty before reparation is extracted. Under the recently retired Iain McNicol as General Secretary of the party, a great many sanctions were handed down against people alleged to have fallen foul of Labour’s membership policy. Many of those sanctions were widely denounced as unjust, designed to try to reduce the votes in favour of Jeremy Corbyn when he was challenged for the leadership by Owen Smith. There is a vast backlog of unfinished business.
Nevertheless, with great reluctance, I have come to the conclusion that Jeremy Corbyn’s critics are right, that he has indeed been complaisant, permitting for far too long behaviour that damages the Labour Party. Henceforth anyone who, like Owen Smith, breaches collective shadow cabinet responsibility should have the whip withdrawn as well as being removed from office. All those who routinely attack the leadership or who join with groups from outside the party a demonstration against the leadership, especially in a pre-election period, should be subject to de-selection as candidates. It is time to impose discipline on a parliamentary party that is turning into a rabble.
Consider the case of the Ilford North MP, West Streeting, an active member of Progress. A year ago, Streeting was braced to lose his seat where his majority was just 589. No doubt on the doorsteps he was putting as much space between his own stance and that of his leader as possible. Yet thanks to Corbyn’s extraordinary performance in the election campaign and a manifesto that Streeting must have been almost wholly out of sympathy with, he was returned with a majority approaching 10,000 against a Tory opponent, the former MP, who is Jewish.
Instead of demonstrating his gratitude, Streeting addressed the crowd at the demonstration outside the Palace of Westminster that protested the supposed anti-Semitism problem in the party. Ilford North’s Jewish community is the third largest in Britain. Given the choice between nailing the lie about Labour being wracked with anti-Semitism under Corbyn and subscribing to it, Streeting took the road more likely to re-elect his Tory opponent at the next election.
It may be that the people who regularly call for Corbyn to “crack down on” his own supporters, unidentifiable though most of them are, are not in favour of his cracking down on known backbenchers like Phillips, Ian Austin and John Mann who daily scorn everything that Corbyn stands for. Well, as many like to quote from Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines” 21. And we certainly shouldn’t expect Corbyn’s critics to be possessed of little minds.
One reason why some Jewish interests oppose Corbyn is that he is unafraid to criticise the government in Jerusalem and supports Palestinian self-determination. The left’s support for Palestine is of a piece with its time-honoured support for self-determination everywhere in the world. But criticism of the government in Israel by outsiders is readily parlayed into anti-Semitism, much in the way that Republicans habitually characterise criticism of presidents of their persuasion as ‘anti-American’, yet bend every sinew to bring down Democratic Party presidents.
This is not a British tradition. I have never heard a Tory declare criticism of Theresa May or David Cameron or their predecessors to be ‘anti-British’. It may be the language of UKIP and other English nationalist factions, just as some nationalist supporters of Israel deem all criticism to be prejudice.
But if you want to hear truly ferocious criticism of Netanyahu, go to Israel. Anyone who has travelled in that country knows that Israelis delight in being called the most argumentative people in the world. In a room of ten Israelis, you would expect to find at least thirty conflicting viewpoints. What you never hear is an Israeli accusing another Israeli of being anti-Semitic. Israel has a rather more healthy political culture than we do, despite the fact that they do nothing but kvetch 22.
Can we look to the media to haul this fraught issue back onto an even keel? Of course not. Philip Spencer contributed a somewhat confusing conspectus of the history of Jews and the left to The Observer under the headline “The shame of anti-Semitism on the left has a long, malign history” 23. It says a lot about the spin being put on this whole issue by Guardian Media Group that neither of the words ‘shame’ and ‘malign’ appears in Professor Spencer’s article.
It may be after all that we have to accept that the right of the Labour are really so determined that Corbyn not become prime minister that they would even rather see Jacob Rees-Mogg assume that role, that they would prefer to lose their own seats and retire into directorships of pharmaceutical companies. From their viewpoint, after all, it may be more attractive than the perpetual warfare that will certainly break out the day Corbyn enters Number 10. However you look at it, it will probably turn out to be mechuleh .
W Stephen Gilbert is the author of Jeremy Corbyn – Accidental Hero [Eyewear 2015; 2nd edition 2016]
1) Leo Rosten’s indispensible The Joys of Yiddish [WH Allen 1970] says that shemozzl means “an uproar, a fight, a confusion, a ‘rhubarb’” though it is “not Yiddish, and not Yinglish, but slang used by our cousins in England and Ireland”
2) “Noise, commotion, noisy disorder” [ibid]
3) March 23rd 2018
4) Radio 4, March 30th
5) “A bitter dispute or feud” [Oxford English Dictionary; not in Rosten]
6) Published October 14th 2016
7) February 4th 2009
8) Marx of course was non-practising. He wrote acutely about pluralism in ‘On the Jewish Question’ 
9) Jewish Socialists’ Group website [March 26th]
10) the feminist campaign of the 1970s, ‘Reclaim the Night’
11) July 16th 2016
12) Huffington Post [July 18th 2016]
13) Article by Cooper Huffington Post [July 18th 2016]
14) The Mail on Sunday [June 26th 2016]. Somebody at the paper must have had second thoughts about the headline,
for the online version changed the word “kill” to “dump”
15) Daily Star [May 15th 2016]
16) Report, MailOnline [January 13th 2017]. Reed precipitated the 2017 by-election in Copeland by taking a job at Sellafield. Michael Dugher was relieved of his post as Shadow Culture Secretary, for which he was singularly ill-fitted, in January 2016 for serial abuse of the leadership
17) April 1st
18) It’s worth reading the whole article at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jeremy-corbyn-is-an-anti-racist-not-an-antisemite/ March 26th.
19) “A young squirt … a nobody” [Rosten op cit]
20) March 29th BBC News at 6, BBC1
21) Self Reliance 
22) “fret, complain, gripe, grunt, sigh” [Rosten op cit]
23) April 1st – perhaps it was the paper’s idea of an All Fools’ Day joke
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